PREP BASKETBALL: A look at how girls teams from NU, Bear River and FLC have fared so far and what awaits them in league play
The first half of the season has been strong for the high school girls basketball teams from Bear River, Forest Lake Christian and Nevada Union. All three teams have found success against non-league foes, fared well in tourneys and currently boast winning records.
After nearly two months of testing themselves against non-league combatants from all over the region, the Lady Bruins, Lady Falcons and Lady Miners are now turning their attention to league play where they will battle it out with far more familiar foes.
Here’s a breakdown of how they have fared so far and what awaits them in the back half of the season:
BEAR RIVER LADY BRUINS
So far: The Lady Bruins roared out of the gates with eight straight wins, earning tourney titles at the Lois Langford Invitational and the Duwaine Ganskie Invitational. Bear River has since dropped games to Union Mine and Placer. They have faced just three teams with winning records this season, going 2-1 against those teams. They are 6-1 against teams with a sub-.500 record. Bear River has one more non-league bout, a matchup with Argonaut today, before they tip off Pioneer Valley League play on Wednesday.
“They’re a really good group of kids,” said Bear River head coach Jeff Bickmore. “They work hard and they are fun to coach.”
Team leaders: Senior guard Gabi Corralejo is a three-year varsity player who leads the team in assists (3.4 per game) and is second in scoring (6.5 points per game). Sophomore guard Julia Pisenti leads the team in scoring with 11.7 points per game. Freshman forward Kaylee Vieira leads the team in rebounding (5.9 per game) and blocks (1.2 per game).
“(Corralejo) is a great leader,” said Bickmore. “She’s has a lot on her with us having such a young team and not a lot of experience. She’s kind of like our floor leader. She likes to pass the ball first, get everyone shots. And she’s been great as far as helping develop kids. I see her in the locker room working with our freshman post player, teaching her the plays. She’s been really good.”
By the numbers: The Lady Bruins are averaging 44.3 points per game and allowing just 29 per game. Defensively, they’ve held teams to less than 25 points four times this season, and the most they’ve allowed in a game is 45.
What lies ahead: Bear River opens PVL play against Foothill, who won the league two seasons ago but is off to a 1-12 start this season. Colfax (12-4) is the defending PVL champ and returned much of the team that went 10-0 in league play a season ago. Fellow PVL teams Lindhurst (4-7), Marysville (4-11) and Center (3-11) have all struggled in non-league play this season.
“Realistically Colfax is the team to beat,” said Bickmore. “They are going to be tough. But, every other team in league we think we are capable of beating. That doesn’t mean that we will, but we feel if we play well, we have a good chance of winning.”
A little background: The Lady Bruins went 6-4 in PVL play and finished in third place a season ago. The last time Bear River won a PVL title was 2014.
“They’re getting g better,” Bickmore said of his players. “We’ve had some players have to step up. We still have a long way to go, but we’ve definitely come a long way and I’m happy with the progress we’ve made.”
FOREST LAKE CHRISTIAN LADY FALCONS
So far: The Lady Falcons are off to a 12-4 start, which includes a seven game winning streak to start the season. FLC’s biggest victory of the non-league stretch was a 63-57 overtime win against Victory Christian, who beat the Lady Falcons in last season’s Sac-Joaquin Section D6 title game.
“I really like our senior leadership,” FLC head coach John McDaniel said. “We got four this year and they are really cool, calm and collected, and the youngsters follow along with that.”
Team leaders: The Lady Falcons are loaded with experienced and talented players. They are led by a pair of impressive guards in Amber Jackson and Ali McDaniel. Jackson leads the team with 21.9 points per game. She also averages 6.5 rebounds per game and 5.5 steals. McDaniel is averaging 13.9 points per game, 7.7 rebounds, 4.8 steals and 4.1 assists.
“They bring a calm,” said McDaniel “When Ali is on the court, she’s a point guard that takes control of the game. She doesn’t turn the ball over, she puts the ball in the basket and rebounds well. She does the things you want a team leader to do, and she’s also a calming force and smoothes everything out.
“Amber is freakishly athletic. She’s hard to handle defensively and offensively for other teams. She just creates so much havoc on the court. She can pretty much take the ball to the hole whenever she feels like it. She’s just a force on both sides of the court. Off the court, they are both 4.0 students, college bound and good mentors for the younger players.”
Ellie Wood, Bella O’Neill, Jessi Dreschler and Sadie Whaley are also key contributors.
By the numbers: FLC is averaging 53.4 points per game with a season-high of 73 coming against Sac Waldorf. The Lady Falcons’ defense has been stingy, allowing just 37.3 points per game. They have held opponents to less than 30 points five different times this season.
“Their defensive intensity is next level right now,” said John McDaniel.
What’s lies ahead: As of Friday afternoon, FLC is already 2-0 in Central Valley California League play. The Lady Falcons faced off with Foresthill Friday night and are back at it next Tuesday when they hit the road to face Futures (8-5).
A little background: FLC is the two-time defending CVCL champ and has won 28 straight league contests. The Lady Falcons were also the Section’s D6 runner up the past two seasons.
NEVADA UNION LADY MINERS
So far: The Lady Miners are 10-8 after a challenging non-league slate of games, which featured 13 bouts against teams with a .500 record or better. They won six of those 13 contests, and went 4-1 against teams with a sub .500 mark.
Team leaders: The Lady Miners have a pair of impressive post players in Emerson Dunbar and Kendall Hughes. The seniors are both averaging double-doubles in points and rebounds. NU also boasts a pair of experienced guards in Aijah King and Reese Wheeler.
“Emerson and Kendall are my two main post players this season … They clean up everything on the glass,” said NU head coach Jenn Krill. “Aijah is running our offense and doing a good job. Reese is one of those players that goes under the radar. She never has a big stat line, but she plays a ton of minutes for me because she does everything. When we need someone to bring the ball up the court when it’s getting a little frantic, she’s the one that brings it up. When we need someone to cover a certain player on the other team, it’s Reese.”
By the numbers: Across their first 18 games, the Lady Miners have scored 849 points and allowed 847. Eight of NU’s games have been settled by six points or less. The Lady Miners are 6-2 in those games.
What lies ahead: Nevada Union opens Foothill Valley League play at home Wednesday against defending league champ Placer (14-2), who handed the Lady Miners their only league losses a season ago. NU and Placer are two of four FVL teams with winning records at this point in the season, joining Lincoln (16-2) and Rio Linda (11-5). Oakmont (5-8) and Ponderosa (6-10) head into league play with losing records.
A little background: A season ago, the Lady Miners went 20-12 overall and took second place in the FVL with an 8-2 mark. The last time NU won a league title was in 2014 when the Lady Miners claimed the Sierra Foothill League banner.
“If we can keep playing hard every night and put it together, we can win our league and make a playoff push, said Krill. “I don’t want to say anything beyond that, because I’m one game at a time, but if we stay focused in league, we can have a really strong showing.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232.
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